A study of what motivates farmers to engage in extension opportunities
In the 30 years that I've been farming I have always enjoyed going to field days and taking advantage of the many extension opportunities that we as sheep and beef farmers have. I have been involved in our local farm discussion group, acting as its unofficial chairman for at least 10 years. I have also followed the South Canterbury Monitor Farm Program from its inception. This culminated in being on the Monitor Farm Committee when the Anderson brothers from Fairlie agreed to be the Monitor Farmers. Two years into the four-year program, I helped co-chair the committee. During my time on this committee we would brainstorm about upcoming community group days and public field days. We would talk at length, trying to thrash out a program that would be both suitably rewarding for the farmers who regularly attended and appealing enough to create interest from those who haven't. The difficulty was compounded in that while we may have had a topic that was relevant to the day, it was often hard to find a speaker who was able to enlighten us and connect with the intended audience. The speakers who relate well to farmers are generally well known and we tend to overuse these people because there are so few of them. My frustration during these committee meetings stemmed from the fact that even though we had a very good facilitator, I felt that we as a group of well-meaning farmers didn't know how to run a consistently good extension program. We knew roughly what farmers wanted, but not how to get there. It was during these meetings, and in fact during the whole Monitor Farm program that we relied heavily on our facilitator's input. This is how most of the Monitor Farm programs are run. I am concerned that while the facilitator holds most of the organisational knowledge, the farmers on the committee may not be developing these skills themselves. Being on the committee of a programme such as this is a wonderful opportunity for personal development for all farmers involved. If our facilitator were to move on, I am not confident that the processes are in place to ensure that this organisational knowledge will be passed on. It was also during this period that I began to think about farmers and how they decided what field days to go to? How do they decide when to engage and when not to engage? Upon making the decision, how do they measure its subsequent value?... [Show full abstract]
Fields of Research070106 Farm Management, Rural Management and Agribusiness; 1701 Psychology; 1505 Marketing
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